THREE Island friends have announced plans to row across the Atlantic unsupported, to raise awareness about ocean pollution.

Island team Mermaid Atlantic is the trio of Chris Mannion, Paul Berry and Xavier Baker, who were brought together through their love of the water.

They are united for the ultimate ocean encounter and will compete in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2023, rowing to raise awareness of the preservation of ocean habitats and to raise funds for marine-focused environmental charities.

Leading the group is Paul, of Ventnor, a well-seasoned rower.

Chris is well-known on the Island in surfing circles and runs the iSurf school and is a coach for The Wave Project,

Xavier is a co-founder of Isle of Wight Distillery and passionate about marine causes and the environment.

The world’s climate crisis is a shared concern for the three teammates, who all embrace the sea as part of their everyday lives.

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They aim to raise awareness for two issues — water quality, including plastic pollution, and the protection of seagrass meadows which are home to native seahorses and incredible carbon sinks.

The team will be actively selecting sustainable suppliers and will seek out and refurbish an older Rannoch boat to minimise their impact on the environment.

Mermaid Atlantic will be raising funds for The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Surfers Against Sewage and the Seahorse Trust.

Xavier said: “We are all focused and determined chaps with a good understanding of the sea and certainly know not to underestimate her.

"While we each have our personal reasons for undertaking such an exciting and challenging adventure, we’re united in our passion for preserving the oceans and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to undertake the Atlantic challenge to spotlight these causes.”

The team will leave La Gomera in the Canary Islands in December 2023.

They will need to row 3,000 miles around the clock to cross the Atlantic and arrive in Antigua within 35 days to break the record in their class.

The team is backed by Isle of Wight spirit brand Mermaid Gin as the headline sponsor.

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